Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Tag: RPGs

Blogging About Role-playing

April 12, 2022

For some time now, I have wanted to post here about role-playing and role-playing games. My own words, not just others’ via book excerpts.

I will mostly be writing to and for myself—as a tool for helping me think through incomplete ideas. Yet also sharing these ideas for whatever benefit to the RPG community.

While not a game developer, I am a software engineer. I have written much code as tools and toys in private, personal service of role-playing games. Maintaining a second website for potential technical posts would be crazy. So I do not rule out such posts here.

The Iliad and Dungeons & Dragons

December 23, 2021

I thought about D&D a lot while I was reading it, because I think the case can quite easily be made that The Iliad is the most D&D thing ever written other than D&D itself (or, vice versa, that D&D is the most Iliad thing ever written other than The Iliad itself, except obviously Mazes & Minotaurs?). What is Achilleus, other than a 20th-level fighter in comparison to the 1st-4th level Trojans he dispatches with ruthless ease? What are the Achaean invaders, if not murderhobos in search of booty, glory and XP at the expense of all else? How else can the behaviour of the protagonists be explained, other than that they are being controlled by the kind of wild uber-machismo that often overtakes groups of teenage D&D nerds?

On High Level Warriors, Gods, Mortals and More – Monsters and Manuals

The Risk of Literalizing Fantastical Concepts

November 15, 2021

Once Orcs are not about the ancient threat of Neanderthal dominance,

Once Vampires are not about the nightmare of rape and the violation of our sanctity,

Once the immortal Lich is not about horror of structures of law and tradition which were invented by men who were dead long before we were born,

Once Werewolves are no longer about the terror of our inner animalistic impulses overwhelming us,

Once Zombies are not about our innate and unending fear of the implacable advance of gluttonous death,

then they are just housecats that we can kill from behind the safety of our +2 blade that adds two to our to hit roll, allowing us to strike at the monster if we roll an 8 or higher.

On Cultivating the Fantastic – Hack & Slash

Author’s emphasis.

Thank the gods for the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, else I could not have linked to the source blogpost.

Warmth and Competence

September 18, 2021

What are the two things that are most important to know about a stranger? Or a group of strangers?

Social psychologists know. But so did the early authors of D&D.

The stereotype content model, elaborated by Susan Fiske and other social psychologists, describes how we organize beliefs about other people and social groups—traits and stereotypes. Over the past 20 years, dozens of studies have supported the idea that two key traits, warmth and competence, are major players in our attitudes and behaviors toward other groups.

Warmth is how cooperative the group appears to us. Competence is how strong—how able to do meaningful things—they look. So, jolly halflings might be seen as high in warmth but low in competence. Dour dwarves are the other way around, not very warm but very good at what they do. Kobolds, maybe, are low in both.

When two groups meet in an adventure, the rules of most early forms of D&D have them sizing up each other precisely on these two dimensions….

Morale and Reactions – Roles, Rules, & Rolls

The Opposite of Impact Is Fluff

September 18, 2021

So, you’re playing D&D and you’re fighting some orcs. All the orcs are armed with feather dusters, so they [are] actually incapable of harming anyone. And your DM doesn’t give [experience points] for combat, so they’ll yield [zero XP] upon death.

This combat is a waste of time. You’re just rolling dice until the orcs die.

The encounter is shit because the encounter has no impact.

Impact: the ability to permanently change the game. The opposite of impact is fluff.

Impact – Goblin Punch

Author’s emphasis.

Good and Evil Are Moral Extremes

September 18, 2021

…[It] might just be that good and evil are moral extremes embraced by a select few. Good is prized because it’s laudable, not to mention rare. Evil is reviled because it does harm and threatens all others regardless of their philosophical bent. But neutrals predominate….

GOOD characters aren’t simply decent people. They’re philosophically committed to advancing good, fighting evil, and bringing justice to others. Indeed, their attentions are for others, and they act with deep compassion and mercy for the downtrodden. This is the questing white knight. The one beloved by good folk and resented by the wicked.

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to do what it takes to get there, and herein lies the high regard champions are held in. Few want the job!

Shifting to Neutral (‘Cause Most of Us Are) – Pits Perilous